Audi A6 in the Passing Lane

Audi just earned some big boasting rights in Germany, the toughest luxury car market in the world. Last year the Audi A6 sedan (which starts at $40,820) outsold key rivals, the BMW 5 Series and the Mercedes E Class for the first time ever. It has also nearly eclipsed the competition Europewide: Audi sold 127,500 A6’s last year, just a tad less than the 128,900 for BMW’s 5 Series, but way ahead of the 121,500 for Mercedes E-Class.

To be fair, one can excuse the flagging sales of the Mercedes E Class, which is a much older model. But the BMW 5 Series is the same vintage as the new A6. Audi’s ability to overtake BMW in Germany and to be right on BMW’s bumper Europewide is big news. Germans are the most demanding luxury car customers in the world. They are skilled drivers who love testing a car’s limits at 140 miles an hour. German car buyers are well-versed in the technology and innovations new models offer. And they will mercilessly savage any luxury car for the smallest transgressions in quality.

So Audi’s success in Germany may well signal a coming shakeup in the premium class rankings in other global markets. Audi has spent 15 years building its luxury credentials and many German auto experts believe Audi now builds the best cars in its class. Audi’s A4 also outsold the BMW 3 Series last year in Germany, by 101,050 to 95,470. And the sprint hasn’t let up — Audi’s sales soared 26% in January. To clinch its image as a market leader though, Audi still needs to outdo its rivals in J.D. Power’s upcoming quality and reliability ratings in the US market. We’ll be watching.

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